Published Date: October 19, 2018
In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Vayera Genesis 18:1 – 22:24, God reveals Himself to Abraham three days after the first Jew’s circumcision at age ninety-nine; but Abraham rushes off to prepare a meal for three guests who appear in the desert heat. One of the three—who are angels disguised as men—announces that, in exactly one year, the barren Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah laughs.
Abraham pleads with God to spare the wicked city of Sodom. Two of the three disguised angels arrive in the doomed city, where Abraham’s nephew Lot extends his hospitality to them and protects them from the evil intentions of a Sodomite mob. The two guests reveal that they have come to overturn the place, and to save Lot and his family. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys the command not to look back at the burning city as they flee.
In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading II Kings 4:1 – 4:37, In this week’s Torah reading, God promises a child to Abraham and Sarah, despite childless Sarah’s advanced age. This week’s haftorah describes a similar incident that occurred many years later — the prophet Elisha assuring an elderly childless woman that she will bear a child.
The haftorah discusses two miracles performed by the prophet Elisha. The first miracle involved a widow who was heavily in debt, and her creditors were threatening to take her two sons as slaves to satisfy the debt. When the prophet asked her what she had in her home, the widow responded that she had nothing but a vial of oil. Elisha told her to gather as many empty containers as possible — borrowing from neighbors and friends as well. She should then pour oil from her vial into the empty containers. She did as commanded, and miraculously the oil continued to flow until the last empty jug was filled. The woman sold the oil for a handsome profit and had enough money to repay her debts and live comfortably.